Acknowledging the Migration Elephant in the Room

SharePoint migration problem

Acknowledging the Migration Elephant in the Room

By Trevor Hellebuyck | November 01, 2017

Does simply migration drive cloud adoption?

There is no disputing that Microsoft has successfully pivoted to a cloud-first, mobile-first organization. Innovative products and services are coming out of Redmond at lightning speed, and it’s often overwhelming for anyone trying to keep pace with the rapid changes. A major area of focus for Microsoft is workplace productivity, and Office 365 is the cornerstone of that initiative.

At the Microsoft Ignite conference this year, Jeff Teper announced that there are over 300,000 SharePoint customers, and that 64% of SharePoint licenses are in the cloud. The statistics for Office 365 license sales are absolutely staggering. However, there is a level of skepticism for how many of these licenses are actually being consumed.

Making Sense of “Consumed” Licenses

It comes as no surprise that Microsoft is very focused on the consumption of licenses sold. “They will be no longer be shelf-ware,” is the mantra coming from Redmond.

The simple fact is that a consumed license all but guarantees the continuation of the subscription. For Microsoft, this is a metric that is closely watched. Active usage of sold licenses is so important that the compensation model for field sellers has changed focus entirely on usage, rather than the upfront sale of the license.  

But the question remains: Exactly how many of these licenses are actually being “consumed?” This is not a statistic that Microsoft openly provides. I can tell you that Microsoft is hyper-focused on adoption, and they’re taking steps to help customers move to Office 365 by providing services and software in exchange for the purchase of licenses. But is this enough?

The Migration Challenge

In the early days of Office 365 (and SharePoint Online), Microsoft’s guidance to customers was to not migrate, but rather, deploy new workloads in the cloud. This is not surprising because this was the exact same strategy that Microsoft deployed in the early days of SharePoint. Rather than convince organizations to migrate legacy ECM systems to SharePoint, Microsoft instead encouraged co-existence.

The strategy assumed that SharePoint would become the home for new, relevant, and active workloads, while older workloads would die a slow death in the ECM systems that contained them. This strategy worked flawlessly, and SharePoint spread like wildfire.

However, the same strategy for Office 365 didn’t seem to work as organizations had a desire to migrate existing (often SharePoint) workloads to the cloud. As a result, Microsoft has been hyper-focused on solving this migration challenge.  

Where Microsoft FastTrack Falls Short

A few years back, Microsoft introduced FastTrack, a migration program that was available for free for qualifying organizations. FastTrack originally focused on the migration of email to Exchange Online, and later followed up with file share, Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS), and SharePoint migration. The challenge with this program is that the scope of what Microsoft would migrate was purposely kept very narrow. This was especially true for SharePoint migrations that can often be complex, costly, and time consuming.  

Effectively, Microsoft was attempting to drive adoption by targeting the simplest use cases where SharePoint was not heavily customized. The problem with this approach is that in order to influence user adoption, you have to create value that drives users to access SharePoint Online on a daily basis. Moving basic SharePoint sites, lists, and document libraries often deals with lower value content, which significantly reduces the likelihood that users will return on a regular basis.  

Instead, the heavily customized and more complex SharePoint sites were created to support mission critical business processes, which in turn creates real value for users who depend on these solutions to support their day to day job responsibilities. As a result, Microsoft FastTrack failed to address real customer needs and had an inverse effect on the goal of driving adoption.  Most organizations delayed projects to move to SharePoint Online (and Office 365) while they sorted about the best approach, partner, and tooling.

A Rudimentary Migration Tool

At Microsoft Ignite this year, Microsoft further complicated matters by introducing a version 1.0 of a very rudimentary migration tool that is focused on File Share and SharePoint migration to Office 365 (OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online).

Once again, Microsoft has created confusion, leading customers to believe that this tool will solve their migration problems. Instead, the tool, which could barely be considered a beta product, introduces even more confusion and paralysis into the ecosystem, further delaying migration projects.


It’s time that Microsoft realize that migrations of this magnitude are not simple and warrant the expertise and tooling of the Microsoft partner ecosystem, including support from System Integrators (SI) and Independent Software Vendors (ISV) alike.

Leave a Comment

Trevor Hellebuyck

Trevor is a recognized SharePoint innovator and the principal architect of StoragePoint, the ground-breaking storage optimization software for SharePoint. Trevor joined Metalogix in 2010 with the acquisition of BlueThread Technologies. He was instrumental in the launch and growth of StoragePoint while serving as Chief Operating Officer (COO) of BlueThread Technologies, a company focused on developing applications for Microsoft products and technologies. StoragePoint has become the #1 Remote BLOB Storage (RBS) solution in the market. Prior to BlueThread, Trevor led technology teams in Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Enterprise Application Integration at NuSoft Solutions, acquired by RCM Technologies in 2008. 

Written By: Trevor Hellebuyck